Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, often caused by faulty central heating systems, gas cookers or gas fires.
Thousands more suffer without even knowing they are being poisoned. Gas Safe Register has launched gas safety week to highlight the importance of having gas appliances in the home safety checked annually.
Research released by the Department of Health confirms that large numbers of people are presenting themselves at hospital with low-level CO poisoning. Over a 12 month period, around 4,000 people have presented themselves at hospital with low-level CO poisoning. Accidental CO poisoning, arising from a variety of fuels, has resulted in more than 50 deaths this year.
Low-level CO poisoning symptoms mirror ailments such as cold, flu or general tiredness and can come about when small amounts of CO gradually escape from gas appliances into the air. But because CO has no taste, colour or smell, it is almost impossible to detect and people don’t realise they are in a dangerous situation until it’s too late.
The CO poisoning statistics come at the same time as research commissioned by Gas Safe Register, which found that a staggering 43% of people don’t get their gas appliances checked regularly, and nearly 1 in 10 are living with appliances that have never been checked.
Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, said “Both sets of research expose worrying problems. It has been known for a long time that even low-level CO poisoning can cause significant harm, but people are failing to understand the importance of annual safety checks. That is why we’ve created Gas Safety Week (12 -18 September) to encourage people to take care and be gas safe.”
Medical expert Dr Rosemary Leonard comments,
“CO poisoning is a big problem because it creates symptoms that mirror more common everyday ailments. High levels of CO, often caused by faulty central heating systems, gas appliances and gas fires, can cause loss of consciousness and it can kill quickly with no warning. Those with low-level CO poisoning can face long-term health problems and children. Pregnant women and older people are particularly vulnerable.”
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